Technology Utilization Office
MS HA, 2101 NASA Road One
Houston , TX 77058
FLC Laboratory Representative:
Ms. Charlene Gilbert
Background/History of the Laboratory
The Johnson Space Center (JSC) is the main NASA center for the design, development and testing of spacecraft and associated systems for human space flight. JSC has primary responsibility for space shuttle program management, a major Space Station Freedom development package and overall mission concept engineering studies for human space exploration programs. The center plays the lead role in selection and training of astronauts and the planning and conduction of human space missions in addition to extensive participation in medical engineering and scientific space flight experiments. JSC also plays a major role in NASA closed-loop life support and extravehicular activity systems programs. JSC's extensive laboratory and test facilities include those devoted to human support and life-sciences technologies, including space and operational medicine, research into long-duration space missions' effects on humans and crew training; spacecraft design, development and integration, including avionics, communications, power, propulsions, structures and mechanics; planetary and earth sciences; autonomous systems and robotics; artificial intelligence; in situ resource utilization; and planetary surface construction.
Mission of the Laboratory
JSC expands human presence in space through exploration and utilization for the benefit of all.
Testing Facilities Available to Private Sector
The following is an overview of some JSC's facilities and resources. Many JSC facilities and laboratories are available to the private sector on a cost-reimbursable basis or by other arrangements.
Life Support and Environmental Systems
- Advanced Life Support Systems Integration Research Facility
- Controlled Ecological Life Support System (CELSS) Research Facility
- Hybrid Regenerative Water Recovery Systems Test Bed
Life support and environment systems resources include facilities for testing integration of humans and equipment in a 6-meter by 6.7-meter chamber with airlocks and a rapid decompression environment. Regenerative life support laboratories include two controlled system (CELSS) high-order plant growth chambers and a hybrid regenerative water recovery system using integrated biological and physiochemical processes for producing potable water from wastewater.
Life Sciences and Biotechnology
- Biotechnology laboratories
- Microbiology laboratory
JSC's biotechnology laboratories support genetic engineering and tissue research as well as engineering development on new types of tissue culture vessels, bioreactor systems and system process controls. The Microbiology laboratory provides comprehensive capabilities in bacteriology, mycology and parasitology in support of space flight missions and focused research on the effects of space flight on microorganisms.
Materials Testing (including Thermal Systems)
- Thermal Man-Rated Test Complex
- Thermal Man-Rated with Solar Test Complex Chamber B High Vacuum
- Heat Pipe and Thermal Test Complex
- Atmospheric Reentry Materials and Structures Evaluation Facility
- Radiant Heating Test Facility * Materials Technology Laboratory
- Hypervelocity Impact Research Laboratory
- Electron Microscope/Microprobe Laboratory
- Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometry Laboratory
These facilities focus on thermal material research for full-sized spacecraft and subsystems in a variety of space environments. Two human-rated thermal high-vacuum test chambers allow testing of complete spacecraft or subsystems in high-fidelity simulated thermal vacuum environments, including solar and albedo simulations. The Heat Pipe and Thermal Test Complex evaluates advanced thermal management systems for long-duration missions, including full-sized integrated control equipment, subsystems and worst-case conditions. Thermal protection systems (TPS) facilities include radiant heat testing of TPS components with proper thermal pulse, thermal gradient and pressure condition simulations, and multizone heating tests of large spacecraft TPS. The Materials Technology Laboratory consists of 11 separate laboratories in the following areas: chemical analysis, thermal analysis, electron microscopy, flammability testing, atomic oxygen analysis, rubber, non-destructive testing, metallurgy and physical properties testing. Facilities also include the Electron Microscope/Microprobe Laboratory and the Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometry Laboratory, which offer negative-ion and ion-counting capabilities and hypervelocity impact research that uses light-gas launchers for shielding testing.
- Near-Field/Far-Field Antenna Test Facility
- High Temperature Superconductivity Antenna/Receiver Development Test Facility
- Video Image Compression Development
- Communications Systems Simulation
- Electronic Systems Test Laboratory
The Near-Field/Far-Field Antenna Test Facility for human space flight programs allows antennae up to 36-feet in diameter or scaled mockups to be tested in a shielded anechoic chamber with mathematical simulation models available to compare theoretical to experimental data. The High Temperature Superconductivity Facility is used in the development of superconducting antennae, Ka-Band communications and front-end radio frequency electronics for space flight experiments. The Video Image Compression Test Development bed evaluates performance of video comprehension techniques in real time. Other communications facilities are utilized to support space flight communication design; verification; system specification and anomaly investigations; and radio frequency environmental testing of spacecraft communications performance in end-to-end configuration.
- Software Technology Laboratory
- Radar Data Processing Facility
JSC's Software Technology Laboratory evaluates and develops software technologies for use by NASA institutions and in space systems development and operations. The laboratory focuses on applications of promising new research and new products in all areas of software technology. The Radar Data Processing Facility consists of computer hardware and software and data storage of radar data used for analyzing upper atmosphere and low-Earth orbit debris.
- Inertial Components Laboratory
- Electro-Optics Laboratory
- Prototype Development Laboratory
- Interactive Analysis Laboratory
- Global Positioning System Test Facility
Avionics-related laboratories test and evaluate sensors and systems for use as inertial measurement and reference devices on crewed and robotic spacecraft. The Electro-Optics Laboratory tests and evaluates star-tracker units, including data acquisition and analysis capabilities. Guidance navigation and control problems are analyzed in the Interactive Analysis Laboratory, which offers high-speed microcomputers that can host computational-intensive problems on a stand-alone and interactive basis, including two- or three-dimensional graphic portrayals. The Global Positioning System (GPS) facilities are available to design, develop and test GPS tracking and navigation systems. The Prototype Development Laboratory performs hardware-oriented tests and evaluation of avionics, including sensors and effectors.
Non-Destructive Testing and Evaluation (Also see Materials Testing and White Sands Test Facilities)
- Chemistry laboratories
- Materials Laboratory
- Thermal Vacuum Test Facility
- Pyrotechnics Test Facility
- Vibration and Acoustics Test Facility
- Spectroscopy and Magnetics Laboratory
- Structures Test Laboratory
JSC's chemistry laboratories analyze expendables such as lithium hydroxide, carbon dioxide and water used during systems tests and space flight. The Materials Laboratory evaluates physical properties of materials for space program needs. The Thermal Vacuum Test Facility accomplishes complex spacecraft subsystem tests in high-vacuum environments. The Pyrotechnics Test Facility evaluates performance of pyrotechnics devices; high-energy density batteries and cells; and other space and ground components and systems. The Vibration and Acoustic Test Facility performs a wide range of acoustic, vibration, structural dynamics and shock testing. The Spectroscopy and Magnetics Laboratory consists of a Varian E-12 electron paramagnetic resonance spectrometer, a Princeton Applied Research vibrating sample magnetometer, two UV-visible-near infrared Cary spectrophotometers, a Guided Wave spectrophotometer, an Elscint and two Ranger Scientific Mossbauer spectrometers. The Structures Test Laboratory consists of several servohydraulic and electromechanical test systems, a hydrostatic proof station, and a data acquisition system for testing metallic and nonmetallic material properties.
Automation and Robotics
- Integrated Graphics Operation and Analysis Laboratory
- Intelligent Systems Laboratory
- Telepresence Laboratory
- Robotic Systems Evaluation Laboratory
- Mobile Robotics Laboratory
The Intelligent Systems Laboratory develops, evaluates and tests software tools and applications for advanced automation, expert systems, intelligent robots, robotic perception/vision and other artificial intelligence applications. The Integrated Graphics Operations and Analysis Laboratory, a multi-function computer graphics facility, researches and develops algorithms for computer graphics image generation and software tools for assessing real- and non-real-time space operations, generates video documentation of simulation results and conceptual scenarios, and performs person-in-the-loop systems engineering and analysis. The Telepresence Laboratory develops hardware and software components and applications for use in telepresence and virtual reality tools. The Robotic Systems Evaluation Laboratory supports development and evaluation of future robotic systems for space activities. The Mobile Robotics Laboratory develops and evaluates advanced concepts for mobile robotic platforms.
- Electrical Power Systems Laboratory
- Power Systems Test Facility
The Electrical Power Systems Laboratory provides support for development, testing and evaluation of space-type electrical power distribution and control components. The Power Systems Test Facility analyzes spacecraft power generation systems and cryogenic fluid components.
Propulsion (Also see White Sands Test Facility)
The Propulsion Test Facility provides the capability for research as well as development and qualification testing of gaseous and liquid rocket engines, auxiliary power units and space systems under sea-level and simulated-altitude conditions.
White Sands Test Facilities ( Las Cruces , New Mexico)
- Propulsion Test Office:
- Ambient and Altitude Test Stands
- Oxygen and Hypergolic Component Test Facility
- Vehicle Health Management Facility
- Laboratories Office:
- Aerospace Materials/Fluids Hazards Test Facility
- High Energy Detonation Blast Facility
- Hazardous Hypervelocity Impact Facility
JSC coordinates activities of the NASA White Sands Test Facility (WSTF), which focus on propulsion testing and materials/non-destructive testing. WSTF has three ambient and four altitude test stands to support engine and propulsion systems research, development and testing. The Oxygen and Hypergolic Component Test and Evaluation Facility utilizes high temperature, flow and pressure gaseous oxygen to support anomaly analysis, development and qualification of test components and systems. Several WSTF laboratories are configured for vehicle health management technology development and demonstration including non-intrusive sensor technology. The White Sands Aerospace Materials/Fluids Hazard Test Facility is the primary NASA facility for performance of the standard NHB 8060.1 materials test. The remote High Energy Detonation Blast Facility is used to characterize explosive detonations produced by high explosives, solid propellants, cryogenic and hypergolic fluids. The Hazard Hypervelocity Impact Facility uses particle launchers and test chambers to perform hazard assessment for toxic, high pressure and powered space systems that are exposed to orbital debris.
Human Factors Engineering (Human-Machine Interfaces)
- Anthropometry and Biomechanics Laboratory
- Remote Operator Interaction Laboratory
- Precision Air Bearing Floor
The Anthropometry and Biomechanics Laboratory collects data to quantify human capabilities in space and for design and evaluation of human-machine interfaces for future space applications. The Remote Operator Interaction Laboratory performs research on human interface with telerobotic, closed circuit remote viewing and other human control systems. Precision air-bearing floor facilities are available for human-machine interface testing and simulations.
- Zero Gravity Aircraft
- Weightless Environment Training Facility
JSC utilizes a specially modified and outfitted KC-135A turbojet transport to produce 20- to 25-second periods of weightlessness training and testing during parabolic flight profiles. The Weightless Environment Training Facility contains a 25-foot deep, 78-foot long, 33-foot wide water pool with purification systems, environmental controls, TV monitor, five-ton capacity overhead crane, diving teams and medical support teams to assist with crew training in a simulated weightless environment.